Monday, May 16, 2011

Purging Until It Hurts

A little over a month ago, I was watching an episode of “Hoarders” with Captain Carl and I started to get all itchy. It made me think about how cluttered my house was. Those of you that have ever watched this show probably know what I’m talking about. That little pile of mail on the kitchen counter? Suddenly I envisioned it morphing into a huge pile of mail. And then I added newspapers and magazines to the pile in my mind. Then, because this is how my mind works, I threw an old banana peel and a couple pairs of underwear into the pile. And then my mind slapped myself in the face and was all “calm the fuck down!”. And I did.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about all the closets in my house, filled to the brim with…stuff. And the spare bedroom jammed full of all the projects we were going to get to “someday”. And our three car garage that we can only get one car into.

Me: I have an idea.
Captain: Uh oh.
Me: No! It’s a good idea.
Captain: *eyeing me warily* Oh-kay…
Me: Let’s do a whole house purge.
Captain: *stare*
Me: Seriously. We just have too much, you know? Let’s go room by room and clear out what we don’t need or have an attachment to and then have a garage sale.

And to my amazement, he agreed.

I decided May 14 would be our garage sale day. We started in the garage, because that was where we would need to put all the purged items from inside the house. It took us two days to sort and clean it, but by the end of the 2nd day we had a huge pile of garage sale items and enough garbage on the curb that I had to call for a special bulk pick up. We could now also park two cars in the garage. We were shocked by how much crap there was out there. It felt great to get rid of it all. Freeing.

The next weekend, we tackled the kitchen. I found a mouse pad stuck behind the crock pot. Address labels inside a vase that was behind a giant container of protein powder. When we finished, we knew where every pot and pan was located. Mixing bowls were easily accessible. The mouse pad, along with a huge amount of other things, went into the garage sale pile in the garage. And on it went from there…

Fast forward to 6am on May 14. Every single closet in my home is organized and tidy. The spare bedrooms are clean and ready for guests. I know where all the extra sheets and comforters are located. The old treadmill we used as a coat hanger is now sitting in the driveway, ready to be sold along with hundreds of other items. And by 11am that same day? Every single item was gone. Every. Single. One. And we were $257 richer.

I’m sharing this story with y’all not because it was particularly funny or entertaining. I know that is the type of stuff I usually write about here. I’m sharing it because this process has really made an impact on my life. I was really surprised at how amazing the experience has been.

Because it was hard. It was sooooo hard. I had made up my mind at the beginning that I would let go of anything we had not used in the last year or did not hold significant sentimental value or worth in some way. I knew this would be a tough rule to stick to, but I was determined. And I did it. It helped that Captain Carl jumped on my bandwagon. I watched him purge things that I knew were hard for him to see go. He had so many old computer parts that he had been hanging on to “just in case”. I found a place we could recycle them and he let everything go. Everything. How could I not do the same?

So I got rid of the cute little baskets that my sister had bought me years ago and I never used for anything. And the eight flower pots that were filled with geraniums at our wedding but were currently collecting dust in the garage. And the old piano lamp my parents bought with my piano when I was 12 years old but is really ugly so I bought a new one and stuck it in the closet.

We priced it all to sell, and boy did it. We were swarmed with buyers before we could even get everything out on the driveway. You meet interesting people when you have a garage sale. I met the grandson of the man who used to farm the land our home is now sitting on. He told me that their house used to sit in the big field behind us. I chatted with a lady who bought all three boxes of my Christmas decorations and found out she gives them to her kids, who can’t afford to buy their own. Captain Carl gave a little girl one of my beanie babies for free and I watched him smile as she hugged it. An old lady bought my Uncle Sam yard sign and told me she was going to put it on her husband’s grave. Then she asked me how much a stripper pole would cost because she wanted to buy one for her daughter. For reals. And the guy who came at the end and took whatever we had left? We gave it all to him for free because he told us he was “just trying to make ends meet” and if anyone knows how that feels, it would be us.

So now we’re purged and both the Captain and I agree that the house feels lighter and the energy is just…well, more positive. Which is something we’ve needed badly. The last two years have been rough, what with all the renters in and out and the financial struggles and stress that goes along with those things. And some of that is still there. We’re still broke as hell and we may have to take in yet another renter this summer. But now when I go into my bedroom closet, I feel like twirling because look how pretty and organized!

I don’t even miss that piano lamp. Much.

Plus, I found this during our purge.



One of four gnomes my mom painted in her ceramics class in the late 70’s. I kept them, even though they creep Captain Carl out. Because they were my mom’s and she wanted me to have them and they should be displayed in a nice place and not stuck in a box in the garage. And also I really want to creep out the Captain since he keeps hiding his lizard fishing lures in my bathroom towels. The asshole.

20 comments:

A Kitchen Witch said...

That is awesome and way smarter than my idea of having a garage sale on "Nat'l Garage Sale Day" which is in August and obviously the person who declared that day was not from TX because hello-hotter than hell, BUT we did get rid of crap and it felt great and I need to do that again really soon. Love your gnome, by the way. very cool.

SherilinR said...

we're moving to another state in 3 weeks, so i've been in major purge mode for a week now & i'm amazed already at how much cleaner & fresher & happier it feels in here. let this be a lesson to us not to slowly bring in so much more shit that we don't actually need or use.

Kelly said...

Nothing makes a person want to clean out the crap in their home more than by watching "Hoarders."

Jules said...

We've been doing the purge thing too. It is hard.

Wow, that was awkward said...

I own my business and our office space. Today is purge day. Spring cleaning. While I sit here commenting on your blog, people are cleaning, archiving and tossing!! I have to get back at it. I actually think everyone will be more productive when we are done.

Chl said...

Fully half of my garage is packed to the rafters with "Garage Sale Items". The sale may not happen until June and each day I look at that pile I think how liberating it would be to just drop it all on Goodwill's doorstep.

Congrats on your shiny clutter-free abode. And the moola from the sale.

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

i love having garage sales. they really are freeing. and giving away the free stuff to the people who need it is definitely the highlight of the day.

but one thing i have to spit hate all over is the people who ask how much, i say something already bargainy (like $.50) and they respond with "$.10." and that's after i've spotted their gold jewelry and mercedes parked in the street. when that shit happens, i tell them to beat it.

DevilsHeaven said...

My husband gets on these jags too, of mass cleaning and purging. The most recent one we did, a very small closet, lasted for days and had many a fights tied to it because I do not let go easily. But you are so right, it is nice to go in there and have everything organized and easy to find!
And everytime I watch Hoarders, when it is over, I get up and starting cleaning something because I feel the same way, OMG, I'm a HOARDER. And I tell said husband to "Just pick up after yourself already GAHHHHHHHHH!!!"

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

Way to go! And... you play the piano?

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Yay, it does feel good doesn't it? I'm at that point now where I have the bare minimum and aim to keep things sparse and clutter free, without sacrificing the place being homey and cosy. I think most people accumulate WAY too much stuff and never get rid of anything. It feels good to purge it!

Nicole said...

Purging hurts so good. Hope it's the start of something good on the financial front.

Mandy_Fish said...

I feel compelled to get rid of crap every time I watch that show. So it honestly amounts to at least one black garbage bag full of clothes or shoes for each viewing. Amazing.

Brandy Rose said...

You know you kept them BECAUSE the creep Captain Carl out.

Crystal said...

I purge every three months! I have to or I go crazy. My mother is three steps shy of being a hoarder and it always drove me nuts growing up, especially when we moved every year and had to pack and haul that crap!! Now I go through quarterly and remove anything that I haven't used, won't use and does not illicit a tear!

Chris said...

You said it right. Purging is a freeing experience! It's funny though how once you start the easier it gets as you go along. Everyone should do it at least every 10 years....if not 5.

Logical Libby said...

I hate yard sales. I always think we should have one, and always get creeped out. Oh, and now it's even worse because I won't top the stripper pole.

This post did make me clean out my closet though...

SeaD said...

NOW I must clean out the closets, at the very least. I know it will be a good feeling. Thanks for the reminder. FYI, I have that same gnome! Along with 7 more, painted by my grammy in the 70's. I just can't part with them, plus they look cute peeking out from around house plants.

Mrs BC said...

Ms Yvonne, you are giving me chills! And not in a good way because I LOVE clutter. My husband keeps threatening to put me on Hoarders..
But good on you for clearing out everything even though it was hard. You have to make space in your life (or soul/head/house) to let new stuff in.
PS that gnome? I have the perfect foreskin cover for him.
x

Wombat Central said...

I think you need to have one of those gnomes show up under the covers on Captain Carl's side of the bed some night.

P&D said...

I just bought a gnome like yours, I knew it had to be 70's.